Detroit — River Rouge matched No. 1 Muskegon in speed and talent to pull off a 30-7 upset to hoist the Division 3 state championship trophy Saturday night at Ford Field.
The spotlight was on Ohio State-bound Cameron Martinez heading into the game, but it was River Rouge junior quarterback Mareyohn Hrabowski who stole that spotlight.
Hrabowski (15 carries, 175 yards, 3 TDs) did his best Martinez impersonation and broke loose for explosive runs that either lead to touchdowns or resulted in them.
“I told Mareyohn before the game, listen they’re going to talk about Cameron Martinez this and Cameron Martinez that, but once they’re keying on me and once I’m being a decoy for you so you can do your stuff, they’re going to be talking about you, every college coach is going to text you … I promise you that,” said De’Andre Bulley, River Rouge’s punishing 6-foot, 240-pound running back who had 75 yards on 15 carries, including a fourth-quarter 33-yard TD run to finish the season at 1,975 yards. “I just can’t believe we just won. This feels great. We’re state champs.”
Martinez, who entered the game with 2,016 yards rushing and 1,258 yards passing, led Muskegon (13-1) on a 76-yard, 12-play drive, finishing it with a 3-yard scoring run for a 7-0 lead with 39 seconds left in the opening quarter.
But, it was all River Rouge — 13-1 and ranked No. 14 — after that as Hrabowski broke loose for a 48-yard run to set up his 1-yard TD to pull his team even at 7 with 7:57 left in the second quarter.
Hrabowski kept the 10-play, 79-yard drive alive with a pair of third-down completions to Xavier Smith.
Then, Hrabowski took advantage of a short field to work with late in the second quarter, breaking free for a 40-yard TD run for a 14-7 lead with 58 seconds left in the half.
River Rouge — which had never won a state championship, losing in the Division 5 title game in 2015 — got the ball to start the second half and Rmontaye Caldwell returned the kick 37 yards to the Muskegon 35 and Hrabowski broke loose on the first play to open up a 21-7 cushion.
“Mareyohn Hrabowski, a great player, well deserved an opportunity to come out here and perform at a high level and he made some cuts and made some runs today and he also made some good decisions for us and put us in great passing situations as well,” said River Rouge head coach Corey Parker, who is in his 10th year.
Said Hrabowski: “When they gave us opportunities we took advantage of those opportunities and scored as fast as we could, and we kept them down. Our O-line made great blocks and the holes were there. I read all of the blocks and I have good vision, so I just took it and ran.”
River Rouge senior defensive back Darieon Jones (14 tackles, three sacks) matched Hrabowski’s heroics on the defensive side, getting in on multiple sacks, including his third of the game when he hauled down Japrie Henderson who was trying to find Martinez on a fourth-and-10 play at the River Rouge 40 with 1:50 left in the third.
After the fourth-down stop, Hrabowski led River Rouge into the red zone, leading to a 32-yard field goal from Avery Burch for a 24-7 lead with 10:05 left. It was Burch’s ninth field goal in as many attempts on the season, making it a three-score lead for River Rouge, which proved too much for Muskegon which reached the state championship game for the seventh time this decade, but leaving with just one ultimate trophy, back in 2017 following a 28-10 win over Farmington Hills Harrison.
Deandre Bulley put the exclamation point on the rout with a 33-yard TD run with five minutes left for a 30-7 advantage.
Bulley’s 33-yard run gave River Rouge 265 rushing yards on 33 attempts at the time. Hrabowski was 6-for-12 passing for 45 yards.
Martinez was boxed in all night, finishing with 108 yards rushing on 34 carries with his longest run of 21 yards. He failed to connect on any of his five pass attempts.
“Everybody believed that we had to find a way to slow down number 13 and he’s a great player,” said Parker of Martinez. “At the end of the day, we knew we had to tackle him in space and just keep tackling him and hope that he didn’t break a long one and we did a great job of it.”
Said Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield: “We played our best football and they played their best football and they beat us.”